Rubio defends foreign aid amid proposed cuts

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Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is defending U.S. foreign aid as the Trump administration eyes scaling back funding to help pay for a boost in military spending. 
“I hope that in the weeks to come, as we debate the proper role of government and the proper way to fund it, we understand what a critical component foreign aid and the international affairs budget is to the national security and economic interests and to our very identity,” Rubio said from the Senate floor on Tuesday.
Officials told The Associated Press that the Trump administration is proposing a 37 percent cut to the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in his forthcoming budget, with development assistance expected to take the biggest hit. 
{mosads}Trump is expected to propose roughly $54 million in cuts to nondefense spending to help offset a boost in military spending as part of his first budget. 
Rubio said while there’s a view that foreign aid makes up an oversized portion of the federal budget, it actually accounts for less than 1 percent of government spending.
“I didn’t blame people because people have real lives, business to run and families to raise. They’re not watching the federal budget line by line on a regular basis,” he added. 
He noted that the State Department funding includes diplomatic relations and security assistance. 
“I know we’re soon going to enter a budget cycle and there will be debate and every dollar in the budget should justify itself, and I wanted to explain for a moment why I believe that global engagement through foreign aid is so critical,” he said. 
Rubio’s floor speech comes after the former GOP presidential candidate defended foreign aid spending on Twitter earlier Tuesday, saying “foreign aid is not charity.”
His tweet quickly got support from some of his Democratic colleagues, including Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Chris Murpy (D-Conn.). 
Trump’s push to slice the State Department’s budget also got early criticism from at least one GOP lawmaker. 
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said the roughly one-third spending cut is “dead on arrival.” 
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) downplayed the chances the Senate would approve the budget cuts. 
“Probably not,” he said, asked if he thought a budget that includes a more than 30 percent cut could be cleared by his chamber. 
Tags Chris Murphy Dick Durbin Lindsey Graham Marco Rubio Mitch McConnell

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